Allotment, Grow Your Own

Pumpkins Progression;

After evaluation of this years pumpkin setting I feel my groundwork  was successful, the plants are thriving in the space and stretching out setting multiple fruit across the ground bed.

I set corn and 12 twelve cucurbits in a ten foot bed, these have all filled the space to provide a fabulous selection of fruit. My treasure is much smaller but I have visited once every few weeks to water the greenhouse and weed, so those everyday waterers and weeders are able to push it everyday. I have been working on home projects, that have been set aside as we have been blessed with another daughter, who is finally finding her feet!

Whilst I rely more on nature to produce my plants, I have time to nurture my seedlings, so  I visit if the rainfall is low, I really would like to work a space daily but my garden is our oasis. A summer haven, we open the doors into the garden and relax and play on the warm days, we grow a few home staples but a few tomatoes, nasturtiums and corn is hardly enough spade for the plants we set.

I sow everything but I do not panic if something vanishes, I just prefer to see what treasure our efforts deliver. This means every year is different, my plan is to see what succeeds without daily visits, the crops that will make the most of what is already there.

I do not stress as I know with the right conditions eventually I will find the space and process that I can utilise more frequently. However I prefer the forest style, planting in layers to restrict the weeds, vegetables are different as were they are set promotes weeds. Despite this my straw mulch suppresses the small mass of weeds and I rarely find more than a dandelion, where evasive weeds re-occur I can easily deal with them as the straw acts as bark would in no dig.

My energy is put into the seedlings, planting the strongest and nurturing the stragglers moving everybody on until they catch up or blossom in their own space. I can fill my greenhouse, plant what is needed and enjoy seeing what is delivered in our harvest!

This allows me time for everything, so the goals are achievable and we can share the process of growing something new. Plant seedlings in smaller spacing to avoid gluts of one crop, transplant the stragglers to maximise the crop, my version of thinning without wasting seedlings. I do not plant what we will not eat as the whole point is enjoying the process.

Do not get me wrong, I admire the pristine rows of set crops however I could not eat twenty courgettes so if I receive one every week it will not go to waste. If the next plant turns out to be something different what a bonus!

There is something glorious about the leaves and flowers and sets, the Gunnera of the allotment it is great to find the hidden gems set behind the grandiose foliage. One day I will grow a Halloween decoration the size of a tractor tyre, until then I will see what our efforts bring!

Decorative or for additions to our table, it fits my need to grow with my children!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests

September Harvest!

As I strolled around the allotment the beans were bundled together nicely, so after selecting mainly! I set them aside to dry out for seeds. With ten plants we have managed at least 10 punnets of beans, these have been added to our chilli’s and bulked up our Favourite meals.

Somehow we managed to grow a very unusual looking cabbage, its veining leaving it more a Halloween prop than food! It really is the most unusual thing, I think it will find its way to the compost pile as despite being perfectly formed it looks like a sci-fi creature which is really too unusual to eat.

The outdoor tomatoes look fabulous and had a punnet of green tomatoes, which I shall set to ripen on the windowsill. The greenhouse is too hot and dry for my tomatoes and cucumbers, my polycarbonate which blew to pieces retained moisture and I got amazing results. Its glass replacement just frazzles as the southern position, maximises heat and light on hot days.

My little treasure is a miniature pumpkin, the little jack is perfectly formed and will be a real treat for our autumn table. So as we return to wash and store our courgettes I am already planning the meals to add them to….

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Writing

Friendly Giants;

As usual I have recently sown winter brassicas, since then we have had a flurry of growth at home and at the allotment, but this week we are worn down with cold! I have returned to homemade meals to improve our vegetable intake as the return to a weekly shop allows me to concentrate on finishing home projects. With all of my kitchen in place It is a few final fixes to finish, and with two thirds of both rooms tiled it is looking great!

My pumpkins this year have been few, watermelons, squashes, courgettes, and marrows are nicely mixed. Last year I had five different jack o lanterns, but this year we are set a few treats to save seeds.

My friend planted four plants, two Big Max (see header photo!) and two lanterns a quick postcard and note for next year I will be ordering some seeds, grown on our site without preparation or added manure it is well worth setting the seeds. So I will be trading some of my beans for some seeds of these beauties for us to try!

I have already resourced the varieties, a few that failed to appear despite an abundance of sowings. I will try my Atlantic giants with their Australian set the Big Max, I am sure we will be gifted a few of whatever we set.

Despite a difficult start this year, I achieved my goals, Greater variety of cucurbit crop, yellow tomatoes, and a far more successful coverage of  plants in my main beds. Next year as my time is more flexible, I will focus on building up our front beds and setting a few giants of our own!

And as my September sowings start outside I hope to clear my raised beds to fill with my climatized winter crops! For now the plants are still producing, as everyone enjoys the end of the season, I can plan, resource and prepare for next year!

Happy Harvests!

Cheryl

Allotment, Harvests

September Sun!

So today after a week of the children off with cold I decided to check on the allotment, I was surprised to see a Good selection of squash and small pumpkins. Despite a busy year it is doing well, a few of the pumpkins will need to colour but they will save me spending on harvest dressing and carving for Halloween.

Sweetcorn thriving, pumpkin patch almost filling our ground bed I feel another tarpaulin  will be necessary to prep next years bed as the pumpkins stretch out over the surface. After a heart shaped tomato, courgette, red cabbage, calendula seed, and some beans we left to complete our chores.

An hour later we returned to help a friend move her amazing Pumpkins, she only got four but two required a bit of braun, After setting them on the pallet we carried on, I was lucky to find the baking items for our next family project reduced so I could buy twice the amount.

After an evening making traditional cupcakes with my children we have set them aside to decorate… They are under orders not to eat them, hopefully they will be ready for tomorrow nights fun, trying to ice and decorate their own cakes.

So apart from waiting for the crops, I shall leave them to ripen and get back to enjoying our new kitchen…

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

Allotment, Harvests, Home Craft

First Fruit and Harvest

 

My husbands new project is a bargain caravan which we hope to use over the holidays, but my project is refurbing my kitchen. Usually I choose frugal over a first choice but today I am being treated as my bargain was exceptional, despite winning a basic used kitchen for sixty pound’s it was clear that despite best efforts their fitters demolished the kitchen. So after a second delay I spotted a fantastic kitchen with appliances and extras which I thought would sell for a few zero’s more than it did, so after covering the lowest bid I continued searching for other requirements.

After a few days we found that we had won it! So today I am looking forward to its arrival, the old kitchen we have chosen to set along one wall along with our storage and appliances. The rest will be used to make work space in our summer house as we plan on making a space for the children to play…

So, a few weeks ago it arrived, as I stood in my kitchen surrounded by cupboards, work tops and drawers it would have been easy to close the door and forget about it. After my husband had sat, fed and rested I moved around pieces and organised the doors and shelves to get a better idea of the project ahead. With some fabulous wooden worktops resting on the stairs it was apparent I needed a plan and quick as the holidays were well underway.

A large corner unit was the first problem, this became the basis of the whole design as it would only fit the far wall. I had moved our wall units a week earlier, hoping to fill this wall with all new cupboards we set these aside, the new kitchen had an island and free standing units with doors as panels, these I hoped would transfer to the high units to allow new cupboard doors for the old units.

As my husband transferred the corner unit and island base units level to the back wall I set about harvesting the trees with the children, our fruit harvest was amazing the larder fridge trays filled and several popcorn tubs of pears and plums.

This beautiful reclaimed kitchen was to become a modern workspace, set in quality materials for the cost of an oak worktop. I was unsure about the new hood, at over a metre wide I felt it was too heavy but as it was set and i re-laid tiles to fit the new space it began to show promise.

So as the children return to school well rested, I am enjoying the relative luxury of my new kitchen. Again enjoying the space and focussing on our needs, grateful for the opportunity to build something new for us all to enjoy.

Above are the beans and courgettes from our recent harvests, red cabbage and tomatoes are a regular pick but the beans flourish as ever. All a bonus to our table…

Happy Harvests

Cheryl

Allotment, Harvests

Harvest July 2019!

This month has been dull up to now, the weather switching between climates has meant this is our first visit this week. The potato bed and it’s variety of unusual volunteers were my first area to focus on, after clearing two thirds of the bed and harvesting a punnet of potatoes I left a few in for a potential winter crop. Once I had cleared the first three rows I added a mix of cucurbits as I hoped to get a second crop in the space as it will be manured next spring it will not loose nutrients.

The pumpkin, sweetcorn and courgette bed again held surprises, several fruits are setting including watermelons a great bonus considering our climate. Tonight I am setting some more seeds as they are doing so well, along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and early purple sprouting for winter crops.

After clearing the broad beans, picking and watering tomatoes and collecting apples from our tree we set off to escape the sunshine. So an hours work did not change much however a few more visits and it will be back from bee bliss.

Despite the vast amount of plants that germinated, they seem to be taking a long time to establish… patience

Happy Harvests

Cheryl

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

June

This month started with frosts, and the usual  family commitments which has set back the seedlings, but finally as the sun shines I have set up a stall to sell on my excess plants. The children are prepped with lists and prices to hopefully allow a few to find interest, Heuchera, tomatoes, watermelons and a few Dahlia cuttings are just a few we are already growing on.

At the allotment everything is setting off, courgettes, potatoes ,sweetcorn and a wide selection of Brassicas are growing well. This years strawberries are setting fruit, the first harvest to be collected this season, hopefully the first of many.

My plug plants finally arrived in the smallest  of trays and I have to say were very impressive, the Heuchera treated me to ten extra seedlings which I have divided from the multi set trays. I chose Purple palace as it has a wonderful contrast against our vast array of green within the levels of our garden. I got 52 plants for the cost of one established plant, I plan on scattering through our pots and baskets, growing a few on to sell or donate.

Weather permitting, the crops will be setting soon, courgette and pumpkin flowers are starting to form and will soon be filling the space … I have found a few packs of seeds which I would have left usually however , Salvia, zinnia’s  and cosmos have been set in the plug trays, these will happily grown on and with tlc add colour later on.

Along with finally setting narrows, sausages and pumpkins, I will sow a few more cabbages, broccoli and lettuce to ensure a winter crop, along with leeks and a second sowing of climbing beans. These will hopefully replace the broad beans, I have set seeds so i may have to add a wigwam to the tractor tyre border if they have managed to get germinate.

I bought a tarpaulins for a pound and cut large circles to line some old hanging baskets I had been given, I planted a pumpkin in each, adding lettuce seeds  and salad leaves  for a extra crop this month. I planted runner beans, sweetcorn and a pumpkin in two as an experiment to see how much can be planted in a small space.

The warm weather finally revitalising the new plants, enjoying the season as it begins to take shape.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests

May

After a month of cool weather my allotment has been set aside for work at home, my daughters have a new room to enjoy from our little break and I am enjoying family weekends with our youngest snuggled close.

Our garden is amazing this time of year, our small pond full with new life some of which I have set into a small tank for our toddler to watch. The rainwater aquarium is home to a collection of  tadpoles, water snails and with the addition of a few grass plants is ideal for watching them evolve into froglets’.

Our Clematis is the star this month, millions of pale pink, scented flowers cascade over our a self supporting arch. Their scent is as strawberry chocolate , which is heavenly  for this time of year. I have decided to try to make some dried flowers to see if it holds the scent, as it is so invigorating.

The work  in the greenhouse  has shown an abundance of tomatoes, I shall be setting them into the bean frames to try them as an outdoor crop. My beetroot sowings, leeks, and flowers are finally starting to show promise, the month flew by and I found no momentum to share the menial tasks. A few weeding  visits and crops are finally settling in.

The harvest has moved from broccoli to salad leaves, Pak choi to be precise, it has grown perfectly and our second sowings are just beginning to grow on. The leaves I rinsed with salt water and finely chopped, these can be added to a salad or stir fry, another quick meal to add to our table.

Yesterday I potted on my seedlings, tomatoes and watermelon plants to be set in plastic pint cups, the larger planters I hope to sell on as grow on pots. At a pound for fifty they are perfect for growing the seedings on from plugs, without the additional pots. As they are new they present the plants at their best and can easily be personalised if required.

New adventures as I have search for new plants and resources to work with, soon my potted on seedlings will get ready to set into fresh soil. Until then I will set the view this month…

 

Happy Horticulture!

 

Cheryl

Allotment, Home Craft

A place to sit!

Today the sun shone as we set to work at the plot, unfortunately for my husband my daughter needed a feed post school run and for me that meant I could sit and watch as he applied the first coat to the shed. My youngest has reached the age of demand, my attention usually when I have something planned. I have to say it is no chore I am happy to enjoy these moments, especially if it means I can get a little more done.

Once my daughter slept I could potter around, this involved weeding the potato bed and mulching with the help of my toddler. After distributing it around the space I followed and thinly spread it over the potato’s and self sown flowers, I watered the ground before mulching as this will be held under the straw.

Following the sowings of the last week I was pleased to see the cucurbits had survived the last week, a few of which had secondary leaves. I know I have a combination of, squashes, pumpkins and marrows so I look forward to the fruits that will follow, with around 15 plants growing I hope to extend the bed in summer to set a second sowing of sweetcorn.

I found once my newly blue shed (the front face, for now!) I moved the shed onto the recently laid slabs, positioned on the old strawberry bed a few plants are thriving in one corner but the rest I transferred to a newly filled bed and mulched on the last visit. After moving the bench onto the space I let my daughter paint a few old plant pots to fit next to it which I hope to plant a few herbs. Mint or lemon balm are my favourite so I look forward to sitting down, once the box bed behind is full of my favourite herbs.

Finally, I found the central compost bin full to the brim with amazing topsoil, this has been sat since our first week and will be the foundation of the cloche bed which I intend to box in using our reclaimed decking boards and fill with the ton of soil. This will save us a lot of compost and mixed with the last of the manure will make a further three beds raise and enabling me to set a few as no dig beds. These will be ideal for pest vulnerable plants such as Broccoli and cabbage, allowing us to set them as they grow on from my variety of successful sowings.

Finally after using my new IBC hose adapter I could slowly water the potato’s, seedlings and pumpkins without walking three miles with my watering can. The adapter cost three pounds from ebay and can be taken home to ensure the tank cannot be used when you are away, the lack of water pressure is ideal as you can trickle the water as needed. However 200 litres, with a little wasted by young hands has been used in the last few days so I am hoping we have some torrential rain this week to refill the tank.

I would normally rush to finish the rest of the shed but, plan to return in a few days and do a little more, for now the side were we work is bright, vibrant and has absorbed the paint. I will soon have a wonderful blue shack to sit, although my pallet bench will require a little work.

The water melon seeds we planted together at the beginning of the holidays I have now potted on, a few plant pots for cherry tomato seedlings will let them grow on. I have a few reasonable seedlings in the green house now, only a few inches tall but strong with their first leaves. I will have around fifty plants by the time I am finished plenty of time to grow them on for summer. I intend to plant an outdoor row to trial in our climate as the greenhouse heat was too much for last years crop, I will set a three varieties as my seedlings were three varieties in one to add variety if I decide to share, donate or sell my extra plants. I chose Ailsa Craig, Moneymaker and Marmande as they are three different styles of tomato, small, medium and large, which I feel for new or old growers and will all be great added in summer salads or sandwiches.

I have set around eighty squash seedlings, these seeds were taken from our butternut squash this week, the seeds were free so I planted them all. A great vegetable for creating harvest characters, adding to stews and apparently roasting, something I am yet to try! Yes a lot of seeds, but I have still around thirty spaces in my cucurbit bed that I can plant as and when the seedlings develop and I intend to grow using as much of our space as possible.

My next visit will be filling our first cloche bed with soil and setting the cauliflowers, broccoli, chard and Kale of whatever variety establishes first. The new seeds the children set of crown Prince, Jack o lantern and Atlantic giant are our potted varieties which the children will water and I plan to set in and area so they can compete for the largest pumpkin. A little fun along with our potato competition to add to our growing season.

Saving, sorting and sourcing is allowing us a little more than we would usually have and is made through applying energy into the moments we find, sharing our skills and knowledge to grow our spaces both at home and the allotment. I am always looking for a space to achieve both together but for now it allows us to increase the space, variety and amount of food we can grow.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

Spring Shoots!

This morning as the weather shows vague promise of good weather I am planning another visit to the allotment! With this planned, the last visits treasure is still strong on my mind and the new shoots some from our little greenhouse and some from the ground are beginning to shine through.

The Cherry tree we planted in our first year is adorned with beautiful white flowers and may even fruit this year! The sight of Blossom is the true measure of spring for me, our home orchard add a majesty to our garden at this time of year. I look forward to seeing this tree growing on, set in a position in which it cannot shade over my neighbours plot it looks fantastic.

The Apple tree is set back behind our central compost bin, again this will cast shade as it grows however in the height of summer it will be good for anything growing on the  beds, as it will shade out the afternoon sun giving the plants a break from the heat.

Today I plan to collect our first bail of straw, the potatoes which are just beginning to show are just breaking the surface, as are the first weeds, also weeding and watering the potato bed. Once it is clear I can add a layer of mulch to the whole space to reduce the small weeds.

Last year the calendula was set centrally and as I checked the bed for potatoes I could see the self- seeded plantlets beginning in the bed. I intend to use the spaces every year, allowing them to regenerate from the previous years as a perennial planting area. This will save me paying for seeds, and break up the beds with a little colour.

My first planted pumpkins were lost due to the switch from frost to hot sunshine, unfortunately the cloches baked them. So this week has seen my children set another few seeds to allow them more opportunities, sweetcorn again is on a second sowing. Several of which I will plant today, ensuring everything gets a good water as they are set in!

The kale seedlings which are an unusual red colour and selection of Chard are growing on nicely! Hopefully they will thrive over the next few weeks, along with the sunflowers and tomato’s set in a trough of water to act as a reservoir over the warm days.

So today I will see what needs planting out and potting on, I will maybe even move the bench and check out my centre compost bin of top soil from the first year.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl